The political temperature in the United States is soaring as 2024 Senate races draw nearer, raising questions about the future party control of the upper chamber.
Let’s look at five Senate seats most likely to change hands come next year, potentially tipping the balance of power in the legislative body barely held by Democrats.
West Virginia’s stalwart Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin is facing a formidable challenge from the state’s Republican Gov. Jim Justice. Current poll data indicates a strong tilt towards Justice.
Justice’s popularity signals potential trouble for Manchin’s reelection bid. If the tide continues to turn in Justice’s favor, a key Democratic Senate seat might soon find itself in the Republican column.
In Montana, retired Navy SEAL Tim Sheehy surfaced as an imposing contender to unseat Democratic Sen. Jon Tester. Sheehy’s impressive military service and entrepreneurial experience presents a robust Republican option.
However, as voters have been known to exhibit skepticism toward first-time millionaire candidates, Sheehy will have to surmount this challenge to win the faith of Montana’s electorate.
Another of the Senate seats Republicans are most likely to flip is the Buckeye State, where they think Sen. Sherrod Brown’s seat is ripe for the plucking, according to a report from The Hill.
Brown has proven a difficult out for Republicans in previous, single-digit reelection wins. Ohio has moved further to the right in that time, with former President Trump carrying the state by eight percentage points in 2020.
The swingiest of swing states has become redder than an angry cartoon character but whether that will be enough to take down Brown remains to be seen.
State Sens. Matt Dolan and Bernie Moreno are the only Ohio Republicans to declare their candidacy so far.
Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose (R) is expected to jump in the race in July, one Ohio GOP source told The Hill. His entry would create a tough three-way race for Brown’s seat.
An Ohio GOP source told The Hill that Moreno will likely win Trump’s endorsement and that LaRose could have fundraising issues, especially given that he’s the only one of the group who can’t self-fund.
“Moreno is the favorite, but as a first-time candidate, he will likely make some mistakes,” The Hill’s source said. “The question is: ‘Is that enough of an opening for either of the two others?’”
Arizona may be interesting and could be a walk in the park for Republicans next November.
Rep. Ruben Gallego remains the top choice of Democrats to face off against Kari Lake, the Republican candidate, and incumbent Sen. Kyrsten Sinema.
Sinema left the Democratic Party and is now registered as an Independent who caucuses with Senate Democrats. She has yet to announce whether she will seek reelection next year as an independent.
Gallego, who announced his bid in late January, posted a strong $3.7 million campaign donations haul in the first quarter, outraising Sinema by $1.6 million during that stretch.
His fundraising prowess has raised his party’s hope that they can retain the seat next year. He also received a boost on the left last week, as Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) endorsed his bid.
“He seems to be doing what he needs to be doing. Head down. Building his brand,” one Democratic operative with Arizona ties told The Hill, noting Gallego has avoided a bruising primary with Rep. Greg Stanton (D-AZ).
Former broadcaster Kari Lake is the likely Republican candidate who has yet to formally declare. She lost November’s election for state governor to former Secretary of State Katie Hobbs by about 17,000 votes.
Lake has met with more than a handful of GOP senators during a mid-May visit to Washington. Pinal County Sheriff Mark Lamb has also entered the GOP primary.
Sinema filed paperwork for a bid but has not announced her 2024 plans although asked about them in multiple interviews this year. Her entry would create a three-way general election battle rarely seen in Arizona state elections.
“It’s hard to say one way or another,” the Democratic operative said about a three-way race.
Finally, Wisconsin Democrat Tammy Baldwin will try to secure a third term while Republicans try to determine who will be their best candidate to deny her six more years in the Senate.